The Real Deal

[Christ] rose again the third day . . . [and] was seen by over five hundred brethren. —1 Corinthians 15:4-6

Sometimes cleaning out Grandpa’s attic pays off. For an Ohio man, it paid off in the discovery of a more than 100-year-old set of mint-condition baseball cards. Appraisers placed the cards’ value at $3 million. One key to the high value of those cards was the fact that they were well-preserved. But beyond that, the true worth of the cards rested in the fact that they were authentic. If they had been fakes or counterfeits—no matter how good they looked—they wouldn’t have been worth the cardboard they were printed on.

The apostle Paul had something similar to say about Christianity. He said that our faith would be completely worthless and counterfeit if Jesus’ resurrection were not the real deal. It took bravery and confidence in God’s plan for Paul to say, “If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” (1 Cor. 15:14) and “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (v.17).

The Christian faith rests on the authenticity of this story: Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead. Praise God for the clear evidence of Jesus’ death and resurrection (vv.3-8). It’s the real deal, and we can stake our eternity and our total dependence on God on its truth. by Dave Branon

Lord, we’re eternally thankful for the truth
confirmed in Your Word and in our hearts that
You died and rose again for us. We love You, Lord,
and lift our voices in praise!

God is the only true God.

Eternal Life: Adjust Your Focus

Romans 8:6

Many believers can almost instinctively complete this statement: “For the wages of sin is_____.” Reading that sentence, perhaps you even filled in the blank out loud: death. We all know what that means, right? Verse 23 of Romans 6 proclaims it’s what we deserve for our sin. This is how we view ourselves from time to time—dirty sinners who have narrowly escaped a horrible death.

The problem here is that too many believers remember just the first half of the verse—the part that deals with our sin. If we focus on the sin rather than God’s plan for restoration, then our entire spiritual perspective gets off balance. Emphasizing the sin directs all the attention to self—what I have done, how I have acted, where I have
been. This self-centeredness will never lead to the peaceful assurance of salvation that the Lord has provided. When we focus on ourselves, we leave little room for God.

Romans 8:6 is a good companion verse to the one we’ve been looking at, because the Lord would have us focus not on our problem, but on His solution. You see, Romans 6:23 is not simply a condemnation for sin; it is a proclamation of salvation! The apostle Paul boldly declares that God saw our dire situation and acted on His own initiative to rescue us.

The heavenly Father graciously handed salvation over to us as a free gift. And when the Lord gives a gift, there is no one who can ever steal it away and nothing that can interfere with its permanence (Rom. 8:35-39). That’s the assurance our God wants us to have.

Godliness in Form Only

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
(2 Timothy 3:5)

Those with a “form of godliness” are much more difficult to recognize than those who are openly wicked. Jesus gave His most harsh criticism to the hypocritical leaders of the religious sects of His day. Jesus also warned of “false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

On another occasion, Jesus illustrated the challenge of identifying those who looked like God’s people but were really “tares” that the Enemy had sown among the wheat. In His parable, Jesus indicated that even the “servants of the householder” might uproot the wheat along with the tares (Matthew 13:24-30). The Corinthian church was warned about the same problem when they were told that “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

We are strongly urged to “turn away” from these kinds of people. They have the ability to cause serious damage among the churches. They will “creep” into “houses” (a metaphor for churches—1 Timothy 3:15) and will lead “silly women” away with many different desires (2 Timothy 3:6). They will resist the truth and will have power like the magicians of Egypt who deceived Pharaoh and opposed Moses. And like those magicians, their minds are corrupt (focused on sin) and are already condemned (2 Timothy 3:8).

The good news is that they will be forcibly stopped and exposed as foolish (2 Timothy 3:9). Peter notes that they will have swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1-3) and will utterly perish in corruption (2 Peter 2:12-13). Like the magicians who produced snakes, blood for water, and frogs aplenty (Exodus 7-8), they will be unable to go any further and will be forced to say, “This is the finger of God” (Exodus 8:19). HMM III

Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed

“Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29.)

HOW strong is the snare of the things that are seen, and how necessary for God to keep us in the things that are unseen! If Peter is to walk on the water he must walk; if he is going to swim, he must swim, but he cannot do both. If the bird is going to fly it must keep away from fences and the trees, and trust to its buoyant wings. But if it tries to keep within easy reach of the ground, it will make poor work of flying.

God had to bring Abraham to the end of his own strength, and to let him see that in his own body he could do nothing. He had to consider his own body as good as dead, and then take God for the whole work; and when he looked away from himself, and trusted God alone, then he became fully persuaded that what He had promised, He was able to perform, That is what God is teaching us, and He has to keep away encouraging results until we learn to trust without them, and then He loves to make His Word real in fact as well as faith.—A. B. Simpson.

I do not ask that He must prove
His Word is true to me,
And that before I can believe
He first must let me see.
It is enough for me to know
‘Tis true because He says ’tis so;
On His unchanging Word I’ll stand
And trust till I can understand.
—E. M. Winter.

If we walk in the light, as He is in the light

“If we walk in the light, as He is in the light.” John 1:7

As He is in the light! Can we ever attain to this? Shall we ever be able to walk as clearly in the light as He is whom we call “Our Father,” of whom it is written, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all”? Certainly, this is the model which it set before us, for the Saviour Himself said, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect”; and although we may feel that we can never rival the perfection of God, yet we are to seek after it, and never to be satisfied until we attain to it.

The youthful artist, as he grasps his early pencil, can hardly hope to equal Raphael or Michael Angelo, but still, if he did not have a noble beau ideal before his mind, he would only attain to something very mean and ordinary. But what is meant by the expression that the Christian is to walk in light as God is in the light? We conceive it to import likeness, but not degree. We are as truly in the light, we are as heartily in the light, we are as sincerely in the light, as honestly in the light, though we cannot be there in the same measure. I cannot dwell in the sun, it is too bright a place for my residence, but I can walk in the light of the sun; and so, though I cannot attain to that perfection of purity and truth which belongs to the Lord of hosts by nature as the infinitely good, yet I can set the Lord always before me, and strive, by the help of the indwelling Spirit, after conformity to His image.

That famous old commentator, John Trapp, says, “We may be in the light as God is in the light for quality, but not for equality.” We are to have the same light, and are as truly to have it and walk in it as God does, though, as for equality with God in His holiness and purity, that must be left until we cross the Jordan and enter into the perfection of the Most High. Mark that the blessings of sacred fellowship and perfect cleansing are bound up with walking in the light.

On mine arm shall they trust

“On mine arm shall they trust.” Isaiah 51:5

In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust to, and is therefore compelled to cast himself on his God alone. When his vessel is on its beam-ends, and no human deliverance can avail, he must simply and entirely trust himself to the providence and care of God. Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone! There is no getting at our God sometimes because of the multitude of our friends; but when a man is so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he has nowhere else to turn, he flies into his Father’s arms, and is blessedly clasped therein!

When he is burdened with troubles so pressing and so peculiar, that he cannot tell them to any but his God, he may be thankful for them; for he will learn more of his Lord then than at any other time. Oh, tempest-tossed believer, it is a happy trouble that drives thee to thy Father! Now that thou hast only thy God to trust to, see that thou puttest thy full confidence in Him. Dishonour not thy Lord and Master by unworthy doubts and fears; but be strong in faith, giving glory to God. Show the world that thy God is worth ten thousand worlds to thee. Show rich men how rich thou art in thy poverty when the Lord God is thy helper. Show the strong man how strong thou art in thy weakness when underneath thee are the everlasting arms.

Now is the time for feats of faith and valiant exploits. Be strong and very courageous, and the Lord thy God shall certainly, as surely as He built the heavens and the earth, glorify Himself in thy weakness, and magnify his might in the midst of thy distress. The grandeur of the arch of heaven would be spoiled if the sky were supported by a single visible column, and your faith would lose its glory if it rested on anything discernible by the carnal eye. May the Holy Spirit give you to rest in Jesus this closing day of the month.